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Tori Amos puts a spell on Massey Hall

Posted by Dorian Barton / August 10, 2014

Tori Amos Massey HallToronto's Tori worshipers got downright rowdy at last night's Massey Hall show. After 38 years (!) of touring Tori Amos showed no signs of fatigue despite her new reading glasses - and references to menopause. Playing a set full of audience-pleasing deep cuts from her substantial catalogue and a few new tracks, Amos kept the audience enraptured with her emotionally intense material and friendly, conversational demeanor.

Tori Amos Massey HallAfter an all Zeppelin intermission post opening act Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou (very cute), Amos came on stage to rapturous applause, facing her much-loved Bosendorfer piano. Having seen her with a full band previously, Amos' solo performance was much more intimate and relaxed. Shorn of the almost proggish embellishments of the full band, Amos's vivid and uncomfortable lyrics and vocals shone. Despite being seated Amos rocked hard, straddling her stool playing keyboard and piano simultaneously.

Tori Amos Massey HallAmos managed to touch on all of her proper albums, save for 2011's Night of Hunters. Her choice of songs was not at all obvious and varies quite a bit from night to night. While not all of her choices made sense (no "Precious Things"?), it was worth it for the element of surprise.

She played no more than two or three tracks per album, avoiding the nostalgia trip of focusing on her 90's material. The most goose bump-worthy moment for me was the soaring chorus of "iieee" (From the Choirgirl Hotel), though "Past the Mission" and "Sugar" came close. "Icicle," her bible-themed ode to masturbation, was appropriately climactic, getting lots of enthusiastic and awkward cheers.

Known for her odd covers (see her solo cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), she didn't disappoint last night with a bizarre and beguiling mash-up of Tom Petty's "Freefallin'" and Sarah McLachlan's "Building a Mystery". It shouldn't have worked, but somehow it did.

Her biggest hit "Cornflake Girl" got the crowd rushing to the stage. This was one of two tracks she played with a prerecorded track and the canned music and back-up vocals were distracting, (making the song seem a bit karaoke-ish) but the crowd ate it up.

Tori Amos Massey HallThe show ended with a stunning version of early b-side "Take to the Sky" featuring some serious piano-hitting percussion. By that point it was clear why Tori has maintained her devotees over two decades and a few less-than-great albums. Her combination of emotional honesty, a positive, self-love vibe and her amazing vocal and piano chops keep her fans connected and coming back for more.

Writing by Dorian Barton, photos by Irina No



Sam Smith / August 10, 2014 at 11:16 am
The only other big name female TODAY that can just get up there ALONE (No bs, background dancers etc..) with an instrument and entertain a crowd like this is Lady Ga Ga.

The like of Rihanna, Cyrus, Beyonce Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne etc, would never dare try this format.

This is why i always say.. 'Learn a damn muscical instrument or get lost!'
Smith Sams replying to a comment from Sam Smith / August 10, 2014 at 01:15 pm
Hmmm, Let's see if your've got your facts straight. The names Cheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell, Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, Sarah Slean, Kate Bush come to mind just to name a few.

jae / August 10, 2014 at 02:17 pm
She's played Precious Things at the Toronto shows on the last 3 tours, and before that as well. I'm glad to get a break from it.
Alison / August 11, 2014 at 11:29 am
Where did you get the 38 years of touring number? Her first album was in 1992
Sam Smith replying to a comment from Smith Sams / August 11, 2014 at 01:37 pm
No you get your reading straight.. Read my first sentence again.. I was talking about big name female artists of TODAY so your list of females from 'the past' is moot. The silly hipsters of today don't know those names anyway which backs my point.
Dorian replying to a comment from Alison / August 11, 2014 at 06:57 pm
She played her first concerts in 1976, at age 13, chaperoned by her minister father.
jae / August 14, 2014 at 11:22 am
Yeah, she started playing bars as a teenager but calling it "touring" is a stretch. She didn't even tour for Y Kant Tori Read.
Silvia / September 12, 2014 at 02:40 pm
Thankyou Dorian Barton for first introducing me to Tori Amos, I can't imagine how I would have coped with my teen angst otherwise! Now I am sad I missed this show!
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